Thursday, 31 October 2013

Nazis moved Sobibor gas chambers to Chelm

October 28, 2012, looking East-southeast along Provincial Road 816 just before it reaches the village
of Sobibór in Eastern Poland. Just 600 metres from the Bug river, the border with the Ukraine.

The Jewish-Bolshevik author and propagandist Vasily Grossman wrote a series of articles in June and July 1944 which were published in English in 1945 with the title With the Red Army in Poland and Belorussia: First Byelorussian Front, June-July, 1944. Following is a extract from one of these article titled 'In the Towns and Villages of Poland':
It is with reference to the national or racial question that the monstrous nature of Fascism is most clearly revealed. The mechanized mass murder of the Polish Jews was carried out over the course of several years. Our Press has already written of the factories of death in Poland. People would be told that they were being taken to labour camps. The the freight cars, loaded with the doomed, would turn up a branch line and stop at some long, low barracks. The people would be told to take off their clothes and go into bathe. They would be killed in those barracks by means of carbon monoxide or by electric current. The the floor would open and the bodies would fall into a basement, where their bones would be crushed. After that a conveyor-belt would bring the crumpled bodies to the furnaces. I have been told that there were over thirty of these death factories in Eastern Poland and Silesia. One of them was at Maidanek, then kilometres from Lublin ; another was in the same district, at Sobibór Station, near Wlodawa. A Pole who for a long time worked with a man who had made his escape from the Sobibór death factories told me stories of which one hardly dare think. They exceed the bounds of all human conceptions of suffering and brutality. This Pole also told me that almost every day there were cases when naked, unarmed victims would turn to fight their escorts on the threshold of the factory, and would die like soldiers.
The Sobibór death factory was later transferred to Chelm. Its site was ploughed up and sown to wheat, so that the most alert observer would be unable to find any trace of the monstrous slaughter-house.
Last year a fetid smoke began to rise from the chimneys of the factory in Chelm. People tell me that this smoke would catch in their throats, that it formed a greasy film which made it difficult to breathe.
For many days and nights the Germans worked in Chelm to remove the traces of their appalling crimes, burning the bodies of the Russian prisoners of war whom they had killed in 1941 and 1942. The bodies of these victims of torture and murder had been buried at the time ; but when our offensive began, in the spring of last year, the Sobibór death factory was removed to Chelm and began reducing them to ashes. Ninety thousand prisoners of war—that is the figure I was given. Russian women should remember it.

'In the Towns and Villages of Poland' in Vassili Grossman, Helen Altschuler (translator), With the Red Army in Poland 
and Byelorussia: First Byelorussian Front, June-July, 1944, London: Hutchinson & Co., 1945, pp.34-35.


  1. Very nice. The story was also in the JTA:

    1. Thanks for that. I see their translation was slightly more dramatic: In Chelm, last year, malodorous smoke poured from the chimneys of the death factory.

      This article by Grossman (which is fairly long) was partially quoted in the SWNW too, although not the bit about moving the Sobibor death factory to Chelm.


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